Wednesday, April 16, 2014

more pieces for that other collection

from "Precision Pieced Quilts Using the Foundation Method"
Last week, I blogged about my collection of ephemera and books, the support materials for all my research about the patchwork design most commonly known as New York Beauty. The post, called "...the collection people didn't know about..." can be found here.

Following that blog, I thought I would continue posting about new additions to this collection as they arrive, and talk a little about what these items mean.

After mentioning the 1992 American Quilter article by Jean Wells in my blog last week, my friend Madge Ziegler recalled another early source of information about foundation piecing using the New York Beauty design. It was a 1992 book called "Precision Pieced Quilts Using the Foundation Method" by Jane Hall and Dixie Haywood. My copy arrived today, and it supports idea that foundation piecing was being introduced to the New York Beauty design through the mass media around 1992.

The other piece was a magazine clipping with a quilt called "Diana's Rose"- a fairly recent variant of the designs with appliqué elements. According to the seller, the quilt design was to pay tribute to Princess Diana after she died- so the pattern is 1997 or later.

The name of the magazine and date are not included, so if anyone recognizes it, let me know. I have a small collection of similar clippings, and they relate to two of the antique quilts in my collection. What was once a rare variant may be seen more often from the current period in history, because it was reintroduced by several designers.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Double Irish Chain, c. 1840, Lambertville, NJ
"For it is in giving that we receive." -Saint Francis of Assisi

Yesterday I received the catalogue from the "Common Threads" exhibition, celebrating the tricentennial of Hunterdon County, N.J. The exhibition was a very special project, curated by longtime friend and mentor Judy Grow, the curator of the Hunterdon County Historical Society.

Judy and I met more than 20 years ago, when she was the owner of Frames & Framers, a do-it-yourself and custom picture framing workshop across the highway from Quakerbridge Mall in New Jersey. Whenever she was in the shop, we chatted about a variety of topics from her husband's magnificent artwork to my involvement with swimming.

One day, Judy had one of her quilts hanging in the shop, and we got to talking about quilts. I told her about my quilt, the red, white and green "New York Beauty" from Kentucky. She was very interested, and asked if I would be willing to lend it for a quilt show at the Prallsville Mills in Stockton, New Jersey.

At first, I was uneasy about the idea of lending the quilt. It was by far my most valuable possession, and irreplaceable. At the same time, I had absolute confidence in Judy, and wanted other people to enjoy the quilt. So I decided to lend the quilt for the show. It was the first time I ever shared a quilt publicly, and it was the same quilt I had hidden from my mother for years, fearing she would give me a hard time for foolishly spending my money. None of my fears had any merit whatsoever, as I would learn.

Needless to say I was delighted to receive the "Common Threads" catalogue yesterday, and so happy for Judy, but I also learned something. Lambertville is in Hunterdon County. I felt a little silly not knowing that, because I spent lots of time in Lambertville when I lived in the Princeton area. I'd always thought it was part of Mercer county.

Then I remembered a quilt- a red, white and green Double Irish Chain made in Lambertville in the 1840s. Mom gave me the quilt years ago, and I wasn't sure where it was. When I located it, I posted pictures for Judy on Facebook. It was never my intent to dangle the quilt in front of Judy after missing out on lending it for the exhibition. Truth of the matter was, I wanted to see if I could find a permanent home for it. Secretly, I hoped there would be an opportunity to donate the quilt, even though it missed the big dance.

Mom and I talked, and we are happy to say the quilt is on its way home, a gift from both of us to the Hunterdon County Historical Society. Even though it missed being in the exhibition by a week, Judy's efforts caused the quilt to surface, and inspired the gift. When an exhibition reveals objects such as this quilt, it is a job well done. For me, it was a chance to pay tribute to the gifts I have received. One of those gifts was the important lesson I learned from Judy all those years ago: share the quilts!

Hexagon Flowers, c. 1970s
"For it is in giving that we receive." Yesterday evening, I went to the Northwest Quilters meeting, and one of my guildmates, a lovely lady named Anne, came over during the break to thank me for looking at some quilts she was trying to sell a few weeks ago. She brought me one of the quilts as a thank you, a gorgeous hexagon flower quilt that I had admired when looking through her collection.

I was overwhelmed by her generosity, very thankful, and stunned to receive such a beautiful gift just hours after deciding to donate the other quilt. There was something magical about the whole experience of yesterday. If you ever have the opportunity to give a gift, don't ask questions. Just do it. There really is no way to describe the feeling of joy, and that may be the greatest gift of all.


I absolutely love this quilt, made by Nancy Tanguay of Warren, Connecticut, and quilted by Monika Krall of Trail, British Columbia. It's so happy, it sings to me. What is it singing?

The quilt is a pictorial rendition of the New York Beauty design, and a wonderful addition to the collection. The first time I saw a pictorial quilt made with New York Beauty blocks was a few years ago, when the Oregon Quilt Project was documenting the iconic Wedding Garden quilt by Jean Wells of Sisters, and I have searched for a pictorial New York Beauty ever since. 

One of the things I love most about Nancy Tanguay's quilt is the big, shining sun in the sky. The sun is a central motif in the New York Beauty patchwork design, but very few people have actually used the design to render the sun. What a brilliant idea, and I also love Monika's swirling quilting. 

Worth noting, Nancy and Monika teamed up to create another quilt in my collection, which was actually the first 21st century New York Beauty I added to my collection a few years ago. That quilt appeared in Quilters Newsletter, and was also part of my exhibitions at the Benton County Museum and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles. 

It was a very important piece to add to the collection because it opened up the whole discussion about how the New York Beauty design evolved with the introduction of foundation piecing in recent years. Having a pictorial is like putting an exclamation point at the end of that sentence. Thank you, Nancy and Monika- the two of you make me very happy!

Monday, April 14, 2014

I'm Looking forward to ____________

I'm looking forward to _________ (fill in the blank).

1) Mom's visit this summer. She is coming from Maine, and we are going to the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show. Her friends Robin and Bill Carter are coming along. Sisters is such a magical place, especially around quilt show time. The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is a bucket-list event. How fortunate we are to have this wonderful event here in Oregon every summer.

2) my book. Years of writing, blogging and self-publishing led to the extraordinary opportunity of writing a book with Quiltmania. The book will be about my "New York Beauty" collection and will be the culminating experience of 25 years of collecting and learning.

3) upcoming exhibitions! Once the book is done, I will prepare to exhibit 50 of the quilts at Pour l'Amour du Fil in Nantes - this time next year!! The article in the latest issue of Quiltmania, issue #100, is a very brief preview of things to come. Before I go to France, I will debut my "Modern Materials, Quilts of the 1970s" collection at QuiltCon in Austin, and will also be the featured guest at the Milwaukie Center's 21st Annual Airing of the Quilts.

4) magazine articles. Soon there will be an article in Patchwork Professional, a German magazine. There will also be an article in American Quilter about the Kentucky quilts from my "New York Beauty" collection. I wrote the article especially for American Quilter and the Kentucky based American Quilters Society.

5) visiting the DAR Museum. The Achsah Goodwin Wilkins appliqué counterpane will be displayed at the DAR Museum in Washington, D. C., as part of a major exhibition of quilts from Maryland and Virginia. I will be attending the event to help celebrate the gift of this object to the museum, and look forward to seeing it in its new home.

6) more projects! There are so many ideas flying around right now, it's crazy. It is wonderful to be approached by so many smart, talented people who want to work together. I now have a bucket list of potential collaborative projects. Hard work really does pay off. But the thing about hard work is, it generates opportunities for more hard work. I say, "bring it!"

If you had to fill in the blank for "I'm looking forward to ____________" what would you have to say? Leave a comment below, and I will look forward to hearing your good news!